The Four Stages of Burnout


burnt match

According to Wikipedia, burnout is a psychological term that refers to long-term exhaustion and diminished interest in work. These are the 4 typical stages of burnout. I invite you to read each one carefully and see if any sound like you. You can also view my burnout checklist to see if you could be heading towards burnout.

1. The Honeymoon Phase

During this phase, your new life seems to be the answer to all your problems. You feel happy, energetic, and excited about work. Nothing seems out of your reach, and you willingly take on any task, no matter the size. Eager to please, you meet any request with enthusiasm. Life is good, and nothing much seems to get you down or create negative thoughts.

2. The Reality Check

The utopian daze is starting to wear off, and you start to see cracks in your new life. You notice people talking about others behind their back, you’re staying later and later despite working more, or your boss is giving you grief about the overtime you’re working. You may feel like you are always picking up after everybody. The occasional head/neck/backache may start to creep in, and you may be taking more pain medication than usual. You may also notice your coffee and alcohol intake levels rising. You can’t remember your last day off, and the thought of going to work reminds you of this fact. But, you tell yourself that today is just an off day, and tomorrow will be better.

3. Disillusionment Phase

You’ve gone from feeling enthusiastic and energetic to exhausted and irritated. You may be experiencing drastic changes in your diet, weight, and sleeping pattern. Sex doesn’t have the same thrill, and often doesn’t seem worth the effort. Your partner has become a stranger, with communication down and frequency of fights up. You may even be sleeping in different beds, or if you don’t cohabitate spending less time together. Some people in this phase develop compulsive behavior patterns with regards to casual sex, drinking or drugs, partying, gambling or shopping. Your anger level has probably risen, and you may notice yourself taking it out on other people. Anxiety and depression become familiar feelings and you often feel ill, tired and just plain worn out.

4. Red Alert Phase

This final stage is serious and without intervention could end in serious chronic illness, or even death. At this stage, life can seem pointless with no hope for betterment. You are completely exhausted and feel like your mental and physical abilities are failing. This often includes an overwhelming sense of failure, a loss of self-esteem and lowered confidence. You feel powerless to take charge and are constantly overwhelmed. Your home and family life could be severely strained or disrupted entirely. In extreme cases, one or more family members may be exhibiting extreme behavior, including criminal activity.

If you feel like you’re in this category, it’s important to seek help immediately. Remember: there is no shame or disgrace in seeking help when needed. Even if you feel yourself slip into phase 2 or 3, talk to someone about it. Remember the adage: a trouble shared is a trouble halved. In the next 2 weeks, look for blogs on nutrition and lifestyle changes that can also help with burnout.

dr eric bakkerAbout the Author: Eric Bakker B.H.Sc. (Comp.Med), N.D, R.Hom. is a highly experienced naturopathic physician who has been in clinical practice for 25 years. Eric is passionate about improving people’s lives through proven wellness and lifestyle principles, natural medicine practice as well as public and professional practitioner education. Eric specializes in candida yeast infections, as well as adrenal fatigue, and thyroid disorders. Dr. Bakker has written one of the most comprehensive books on yeast infections called Candida Crusher. Website:  You can complete his online survey to determine if you have a yeast infection here, or link through to his many You Tube videos:  Dr. Bakker’s Blog:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *